News

Statement from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on the Ring of Fire

“Ontario families, especially northern and Indigenous communities, are tired of waiting for the Ring of Fire. I understand why today is yet another frustrating day for them.

Months after Kathleen Wynne said she was trying to reach a deal with nine First Nations to move forward in agreement – particularly to start on the road into the region – Wynne announced Monday that she has only reached a deal with three of those First Nations. That disappointment follows 14 years of Liberal government during which not one shovel has hit the ground. Not one kilometre of road has been built.

This spring, Wynne moved Ontario further away from unlocking the Ring of Fire by refusing to include any mention, nor a single dollar to move the project forward, in the provincial budget. And the Conservatives aren’t the answer – they want to cut the budget, not make real investments.

This is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I want to build the infrastructure that is needed to spark the Ring of Fire. I want to unlock the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity this project promises. And I want to do it right, ensuring we respect Indigenous nations in the region as partners. Unlike Wynne and the Conservatives, I understand the urgency. There are people hurting because of the shortage of good jobs in their home community – jobs they can raise a family on. It doesn’t have to be this way. With a new government – one willing to take the Ring of Fire off the backburner and make it a priority – we will see action quickly.”

After years of cuts, docs show Kingston General is chronically overcrowded

Ontario New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath released new information Wednesday that shows chronic overcrowding and unfunded beds being operated at Kingston General Hospital, and called on Kathleen Wynne to undo the damage she has done to Ontario’s hospitals.

“When you or your loved ones are hurt, you should be able to get the help and care you need, when you need it most. But that’s not what’s happening. As all-too-many Kingston residents know firsthand, Kingston General Hospital has faced serious overcrowding for years,” said Horwath. “Kathleen Wynne has turned her back on patients and the workers that treat them and save them. Wynne government cuts have pushed Kingston General Hospital too far, and dangerous overcrowding and hallway medicine are now the new normal, in Kingston and across Ontario. We have to change that.”

Horwath released numbers acquired by her office through Freedom of Information requests that show Kingston General operating above safe capacity throughout 2017. Additionally, the hospital has been running up to 30 unfunded beds in its acute care and mental health wards. Horwath also discussed recently released numbers from Health Quality Ontario which highlighted long wait times in Kingston, including the longest wait times in the province for kidney stone removal and appointments with a specialist regarding hip replacement surgery.

“These aren’t just numbers. These are Ontarians left waiting in pain for surgery that is critical to their quality of life,” said Horwath. “Hallway medicine and long wait times are stripping Ontarians of their dignity. That is Kathleen Wynne’s health care legacy.”

The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and slashed over 7,000 hospital beds. Wynne piled on damage with years of frozen hospital budgets and further cuts, including underfunding hospitals by at least $300 million this year alone.

Horwath said the NDP is committed to properly funding Ontario hospitals. “An NDP government will guarantee that hospital funding will always – at a minimum – keep up with inflation, population growth, and the unique health needs of our communities, each and every year."

Horwath has called for a moratorium on layoffs of nurses and frontline care providers, and has also introduced a plan to create Ontario’s first universal pharmacare program. Providing drug coverage for everyone – regardless of age, income or health history – can improve health outcomes, and reduce demand on emergency services. 

“The time has come to do something about our underfunded health care system in Kingston, and across Ontario. And New Democrats are ready to lead the way,” said Horwath.

Surgical wait times worsen under Liberal budget cuts and freezes: London MPP

New numbers released by Health Quality Ontario (HQO) confirmed what many residents have already experienced firsthand – London has the longest surgical wait times in the province, and things are only getting worse.  

“Kathleen Wynne just doesn’t get it. She froze hospital budgets for years, and the funding she announced in the last budget to great fanfare doesn’t even keep up with inflation, much less make up for years of cuts,” said London West MPP Peggy Sattler.

Recently published HQO data shows that London has the longest wait time for orthopedic surgery in the province, and more patients are waiting longer than the provincial targets for surgery in 2017 than in 2016. Less than half of all London patients waiting for a hip or knee replacement get it on time, compared to roughly 75 per cent province wide. Overall, the percentage of orthopedic surgeries being done within target wait times in London hospitals has dropped by five per cent or more from 2016 to 2017.

“Our frontline care workers – doctors, nurses, and other professionals – are being asked to do more and more with less and less. Kathleen Wynne isn’t giving them the resources they need to provide care, and patients are paying the price,” said Sattler. 

Hospitals in Ontario have been pushed to the breaking point by Liberal and Conservative cuts. The Conservatives fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and slashed over 7,000 hospital beds. Wynne’s Liberals have done even more damage, freezing health care spending for years, and shortchanging hospitals by at least $300 million this year alone.

The NDP has committed to ending hospital cuts and providing strong, predictable base funding for hospitals that will keep up with inflation and population growth, and the unique needs of communities. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has called for a moratorium on layoffs of nurses and frontline care providers and recently introduced her party’s plan to create the Ontario’s first universal pharmacare program, a prescription drug plan that covers everyone regardless of age or income, and is expected to reduce pressure on hospitals and emergency rooms. 

“The Wynne Liberals have perpetuated a crisis in health care here in London, and across this province. And it’s only getting worse,” said Sattler. “Ontarians deserve better. New Democrats are committed to providing Ontarians with the care they need, when and where they need it.”

 

Wynne’s ‘Tory-style’ education funding leaving kids behind: NDP Education Critic

Today, NDP Education critic Peggy Sattler released the following statement in response to the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario report on education funding in Ontario: 

“Today's report by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario highlights what too many students and parents already know: years of successive Conservative and Liberal governments have created an education system that is failing our children.

The report shows just how out of touch Kathleen Wynne is. She just doesn’t get it. Minor tweaks to an education system designed by Conservatives will continue to fail students, and leave families scrambling to fill the gaps.

Special education funding is completely disconnected from students' needs, leaving many kids without even the basic services they need to thrive. Grants that were intended to give at-risk youth and students from low income backgrounds a leg up fall short of what’s needed and are often diverted for other uses. Rural and Northern schools continue to be shut down by Wynne, forcing students to be bused further away from home, and stripping towns of vital community spaces.

A New Democratic government will ground special education funding in the needs of students and ensure every child starts with their best foot forward. And we will ensure there's a full review of education funding to create a system that works for students, families and educators. Until then, Andrea Horwath and Ontario’s New Democrats will continue calling on Wynne to freeze school closures, and fund classrooms and kids properly.”

NDP Leader Horwath pushes for major labour reforms

This morning at Queen’s Park, Ontario New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath announced a comprehensive package of amendments to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act, aiming to improve working conditions across the province.

“In Ontario today, work is less stable. Jobs don’t last a lifetime like they used to. And so many workers don’t have even basic workplace benefits; it’s time to do something about it,” said Horwath. “For a decade and a half, Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals turned their backs on everyday families, refusing to update workplace laws. Now, Kathleen Wynne’s new labour bill falls far short of what’s really needed. Clearly, she doesn’t get what workers are dealing with every day.”

Horwath’s announcement follows the introduction of the Liberal’s own labour legislation, which Horwath said “falls far short of what is needed.” 

The NDP amendment package builds on Horwath’s universal pharmacare plan announced earlier in the year, which would give all Ontarians prescription drug coverage - regardless of their job status, age or income. The new amendments include a number of measures to improve workplace conditions, wages, and benefits, and will make it easier for workers to join a union.

Highlights include:

  • Five paid sick or emergency days for all workers
  • Three weeks paid vacation after the first year of employment, up from the current two
  • Ending exemptions that allow some worker categories to be paid less than minimum wage
  • Making it harder for employers to label long-time workers “contractors” instead of employees

“A fair day’s work should come with fair pay and benefits. Workers should have a sense of security at their jobs and working people should be able to get ahead of the bills and join the middle class. These are the kinds of values that Ontarians share,” said Horwath. “And this is who we are as New Democrats. We know who we stand with – before and after an election. New Democrats stand with working people.”

NDP: OLG privatization will hurt Ontario services

As the Wynne Liberals hand over the OLG’s GTA locations today to B.C-based Great Canadian Gaming Corp. and Toronto-based Brookfield Business Partners, the NDP is raising concerns over the effects of privatization -- and the billions of dollars that will be going into B.C. bank accounts instead of Ontario hospitals and classrooms.

Last week, on behalf of the NDP, Finance critic John Vanthof wrote to Financial Accountability Officer Stephen LeClair asking the FAO to determine the financial risks to the province.

“OLG is a vital source of revenue for the people of Ontario, bringing in about $2 billion each year,” said Economic Development critic MPP Catherine Fife. “That’s money that goes to fund the services that Ontario families count on. We know Wynne’s OLG privatization scheme gives away a minimum guaranteed $72 million annually, plus as much as 70 per cent of all gambling revenue – where does this leave Ontario families?

“With so much money going into the bank accounts of private corporations instead of going to the people of this province, services that have already suffered under Wynne -- like hospital care -- will only be more squeezed."

Fife said that Ontarians have seen enough cutting and squeezing under the Wynne government, noting that hospitals are losing services and schools are closing across the province due to years of Liberal and Conservative cuts. She said the OLG’s stated objective of earning an additional $900 million for the province by 2021 is now at risk as a result of the privatization.

“Gaming can offer good jobs and tourism investment as well as much-needed revenues," said Fife. "The NDP wants those revenues to go back into our hospitals, schools and communities – when those revenues leave our borders, its everyday families that lose out.”

NDP Statement on Public Inquiry into Long-Term Care Facilities

Ontario NDP Critic for Home and Long-Term Care and Seniors’ Affairs Teresa Armstrong issued the following statement on the public inquiry into the safety of Ontario’s long-term care facilities:

“Today I attended the news conference in London announcing the details of the public inquiry into the safety of long-term care homes. It’s clear the inquiry is very limited in its scope. We’ve heard from family members, seniors advocates and personal support workers that their loved ones are not getting the care they need. Our parents and grandparents deserve so much better than the short-staffing and underfunding we see today.

The inquiry must root out the systemic issues that allowed the horrible crimes committed by Elizabeth Wettlauffer to happen in the first place, and then must expand to address the safety, health and dignity of all seniors in all care homes. The safety of residents and staff in care facilities must be a top priority to ensure the well-being of seniors in long-term care.”

Horwath returns to Wallaceberg with answers on Liberal cuts to hospital funding

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was back in Wallaceberg today, keeping her promise to local residents to find out why the Sydenham hospital was stripped of its ‘small and rural’ designation and funding for vital services like the emergency room, diagnostic imaging, and front-line care workers.

“Leadership is about telling people what you will do – and then doing it,” said Horwath. “New Democrats always stand up for the health care that families need and I’m very happy to be back in Wallaceburg with answers for this community. It took 13 months to pry answers out of the Wynne government and what we’ve learned doesn’t inspire any confidence in Wynne’s health care leadership,” said Horwath.

NDP Leader says seniors deserve full investigation into the crisis in long-term care

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath joined local long-term care nurse practitioner Lynne Withers this morning to discuss the ongoing crisis in senior’s long-term care in Ontario. Horwath has called for a broad, two-part inquiry into seniors care across the province, stemming from the circumstances of the Wettlaufer murders, and expanding to include an investigation into staffing levels, funding and safety conditions in seniors care homes across the province and says she is concerned that the inquiry announced recently by the Wynne Liberals fails to specify these key issues that must be included in the inquiry’s mandate in order for it to be effective.

“Seniors in Sarnia can wait years to get into a seniors care home, and once they find a room many aren’t getting the care they need. Lynne works in a long-term care home in the area, and the conditions she described to me this morning are heartbreaking, and sound similar to stories I've heard all over the province” said Horwath. 

Records show Liberal, Conservative health care cuts hurt families in Napanee

Napanee Lennox and Addington County General Hospital operating above safe capacity, as high as 115 per cent, under Wynne Liberals

Today Premier Kathleen Wynne will visit Napanee Lennox and Addington County General Hospital, and the NDP says while Wynne is there, she must answer for why the hospital has been running dangerously overcrowded for years.

The Ontario NDP today released internal government statistics revealing that the hospital has been forced to operate its acute care unit well above safe capacity for 21 consecutive months.

“Years and years of Conservative and Wynne Liberal cuts to health care have done serious damage. Frontline health care staff are being asked to do more with less, and patients are paying the price – they’re waiting longer and they’re lying on gurneys in the hallway when there are no beds available,” said Horwath.

NDP statement on AODA Alliance FOI ruling

NDP Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities Critic Monique Taylor issued the following statement on the recent ruling from the Information and Privacy Commission regarding a Freedom of Information request from the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance:

“As the NDP critic for Accessibility Issues, I was pleased to see that the Information and Privacy Commission has ruled in favour of transparency and accountability by ordering the Liberal government to waive the thousands of dollars in fees they had levied against Ontarians trying to access information about accessibility enforcement and compliance in the province.

It’s been literally years since David Lepofsky and the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance requested straight forward details on what the Liberal government was doing to make sure businesses were complying with the accessibility act. New Democrats support the enforcement of accessibility standards in Ontario, and we believe the government should do so in a transparent, accountable way. 

The Information and Privacy Commission rightly saw the information being sought as having a clear public health and safety benefit – and how could it not?

It’s totally unreasonable for the government to charge over $4,000 for access to the information in the first place, as well as spending thousands of dollars on a team of lawyers to fight the AODA Alliance. Ordering the Liberals to drop the $4,000 fee is a good start; the right thing for the Wynne Liberals to do would be to waive the remaining $750 charge entirely.”

Seniors and their loved ones deserve full investigation into the crisis in long-term care: Horwath

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement.

“New Democrats, seniors groups, health care advocates, and concerned families across the province have spoken out clearly on the urgent need for a broad based public inquiry into the systemic problems in long-term care. We are concerned that today’s announcement from Premier Wynne and her Liberal government fails to specify key issues that must be included in the inquiry’s mandate such as:

  • Safety of residents and staff
  • Quality of care/minimum standards of direct daily care
  • Funding levels
  • Staffing levels and staffing practices
  • Regulation, enforcement, and inspections
  • Capacity, availability, and accessibility in all regions
  • The impact of for-profit privatization on care
  • Government action and inaction on previous recommendations to improve the long-term care system.

 

Ontarians expect this public inquiry to examine the circumstances of the Wettlaufer murders, but we cannot stop there.  Seniors and their loved ones need a full investigation into the long-standing systemic problems that have thrown seniors’ care into crisis, and caused hardship for families across the province. It is not enough for this inquiry to examine whether the Long-Term Care Homes Act is being followed. We already know that seniors deserve stronger protections that safeguard their health, safety and dignity in long-term care.”

Wynne Liberals fail vulnerable children and youth by freezing mental health budgets: NDP

Two London NDP MPPs say the Wynne Liberals have worsened a funding crisis in children’s mental health services in Ontario, by failing to increase base funding for care agencies for more than 10 years, coupled with decades of chronic underfunding.

“Children and youth across Ontario are in desperate need of help, and children’s mental health agencies are struggling to keep up,” said London West MPP Peggy Sattler. “By perpetuating and worsening this funding crisis, Kathleen Wynne is failing children and youth living with mental health issues and their families. This is contributing to the tragedy of youth suicide we have experienced in London and communities across Ontario, and the epidemic of youth suicide among indigenous young people.”

Patients, health care workers paying the price for years of Liberal cuts: NDP

The NDP says the time has come for the Ontario government to start investing in our health care system again, after years of Liberal budget cuts and freezes have left hospitals overcrowded, and scrambling to address mounting demand for care. This week, reports detailed the extreme measures being taken by Hamilton area hospitals: Hamilton Health Sciences is being forced to cut another $20 million while St. Jospeh’s Healthcare is being forced to cut $7 million. 

“Patient care has already been seriously impacted by the Wynne government’s cuts to health care,” said NDP Health critic France Gélinas. “People in pain wait hours in emergency rooms and admitted patients spend days on gurneys in hallways. Years of cuts, underfunding and frozen budgets at the hands of Wynne and the Liberals have done deep damage to the health care that families count on.

Chatham dogs saved, time to end breed-specific legislation: DiNovo

Cheri DiNovo, NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, welcomed news that the dogs rescued from a dogfighting ring in the Chatham area will be sent to Florida for rehabilitation – but said the case highlights the need to end legislation that targets dogs based on their breed or even just their appearance.

“For too long, Ontario has allowed healthy dogs to be euthanized by labelling them as ‘pit bulls’ and denying them a chance for rehabilitation,” said DiNovo who is the author of a Private Member’s Bill aimed at repealing Ontario’s breed specific legislation (BSL).

NDP calls for financial risk information on OLG privatization

With the Wynne Liberals expected to hand over a gaming monopoly as part of its OLG privatization in the coming weeks, the NDP is asking the independent Financial Accountability Office of Ontario to calculate how much Ontario families stand to lose.

Finance critic, MPP John Vanthof, wrote to Financial Accountability Officer Stephen LeClair Wednesday asking the FAO to determine the financial risks to the province.

NDP MPP and Fort Erie Mayor: Woodbine stabling policy threatens Fort Erie Race Track

NDP Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates and Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop say a new stabling policy introduced by Woodbine Racetrack limiting horse movement is having serious negative consequences for horse racing in the province.  

“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, what Woodbine in Toronto is doing is not only unprecedented, it’s frankly unfair,” said Gates. “I can see firsthand the negative affect that this is having on the Fort Erie Racetrack and the Niagara tourism industry.”

NDP statement on Wynne’s Sudbury byelection trial testimony

NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson released the following statement regarding Premier Kathleen Wynne’s upcoming trial testimony, stemming from the 2015 Sudbury byelection: 

“I don’t blame Ontarians for being frustrated that the Wynne government’s time and energy is being spent defending its actions in court.

In the coming weeks, Ontarians will have to sit through the news from two trials related to how Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals do business. Wynne’s former top advisors Patricia Sorbara and Gerry Lougheed will be tried for allegedly violating the Elections Act related to bribery accusations in Glenn Thibeault’s Sudbury byelection, shortly before the Liberal government’s former chief of staff and deputy chief of staff will face a separate criminal trial for their alleged role in the $1.1-billion gas-plant scandal and its cover up. 

Meanwhile, Ontario families are at a tipping point. The cost of living is up. Wages are flat. Services we all count on, like health care, have been squeezed through round after round of cuts by Wynne’s Liberals. People need a government that’s focused on what matter to us – our hydro bills, hospitals and seniors care homes and our children’s classrooms. Instead, the Liberal government is mired in scandal and self-defense, focused on its party and its friends.

It’s unprecedented for a sitting premier to be called to testify in a trial – I can see why Ontarians feel she has betrayed their trust. 

We share Ontarians’ frustrations.”